After a Year 2 student at Red Bay Primary School tested positive for COVID-19, the Public Health Department took 207 swab tests of the entire class, relevant staff and families on Friday.
All of those tests returned negative, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee reported at a government press briefing on Saturday afternoon.
Out of 346 tests carried out on Friday, only one person – a returning traveller – tested positive.
Lee said the student’s test had returned “a weak positive” result, while other confirmatory tests have come back as negative.
“However, given the fact that the [student] has symptoms of a respiratory infection, we feel that we have to report the result as positive,” he said.
Lee said it is possible that the test picked up a trailing infection and, given that the father and sibling of the student also have symptoms of a respiratory infection, one scenario may be that the family has a common cold.
He said because of the low viral load detected in the test, the child was “unlikely to have been infectious”. That fact, along with the negative results from all those tested who had come into contact with the child was “hugely reassuring,” he added.
Students, parents and teachers in self-isolation
Despite the negative results, all 54 Red Bay Primary Year 2 students, their parents and six teachers should remain isolated until 16 Oct., when they will be retested.
Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said three parents of Year 2 students are teachers at other schools – George Town Primary, Clifton Hunter High School and John Gray High School.
O’Connor-Connolly said they would be temporarily replaced at those schools while they self-isolate.
The Year 2 students will be remote learning online next week until the mid-term break begins on Friday, she said.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said the rapid testing and contact tracing in response to the single positive case has been a massive test of the system and the protocols that are in place.
“Judged by any standard anywhere this is an incredible performance. And we all have the right to be proud of Cayman’s ability to respond to this threat and incidents such as this,” he said.
Governor Martyn Roper agreed that Cayman’s crisis management system is performing “very well,” not only in terms of the COVID-19 testing but also in preparation for Hurricane Delta.
Parents and students who were not tested at Red Bay Primary on Friday were invited to take part in free drive-through testing outside the Cayman Islands Hospital on Saturday morning. Testing will also be available at the site for anyone with health concerns from 7am to 9:30am on Monday, Lee said.
Government is not using geofencing technology for the families and individuals who have gone into self-isolation in relation to this case, the chief medical officer said.
Hospitalised patient placed on ventilator
Lee further reported that the health of the single COVID-19 patient who is hospitalised has deteriorated. The patient is now requiring a ventilator. He did not give further details regarding this patient.
As of Saturday, a total of 221 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the Cayman Islands, of which 211 have recovered. There are currently nine active cases.
As of Friday, 191 people were in government isolation facilities, and 220 were self-isolating at their homes, Lee said.
The chief medical officer urged people to continue to practice safe respiratory etiquette, observing social distancing, regularly washing and sanitising their hands, and wearing masks around anyone who may be vulnerable, because, he said, Cayman was not at “zero risk”.
He said cases of respiratory infections were rising “as they do in the winter,” and an increase in coughs and colds was likely. He said until tests are done or a person has been checked by a doctor, it is impossible to distinguish COVID-19 from a flu or cold, so he encouraged people who have respiratory symptoms to isolate until they can get medical advice.
He added, “I feel that this particular case, although it is caused a large response, it’s probably not a clinical threat to the community, which is why I haven’t recommended any change to the guidance.”
Anyone in isolation as a result of this case or anyone else who is concerned they may have COVID symptoms should contact the HSA flu hotline on 947-3077 or 1-800-534-8600 or email [email protected]. The Public Health Administration can be contacted at 244-2621.